Intervention program reduces conduct problems in youngsters

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Washington, Dec 9 (ANI): A program designed at the University of Georgia to reduce alcoholism, drug use and risky sexual behaviour has also been found to reduce conduct problems in youngsters.

According to a new study, Strong African-American Families (SAAF, pronounced "safe") Program developed by University of Georgia, could reduce the odds of youngsters engaging in conduct problems by up to 74 percent two years later.

SAAF is based on more than 20 years of research that have identified parenting and care-giving practices that allow low-income, African-American families living in rural areas to raise children who are successful despite the challenges that stem from poverty, racism and a lack of social services.

The program consists of seven weekly meetings that include concurrent, hour-long, sessions for pre-adolescent youth and their parents followed by a joint session in which the families practice the skills they've learned.

"A lot of programs show benefits in close proximity to the intervention, but many fewer-and none with African-American populations-show benefits one, two or more years after the intervention," said study co-author Gene Brody, director of the UGA Center for Family Research, part of the UGA Institute for Behavioural Research, and Regents Professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

"Previous research has shown benefits of SAAF up to six years later," Brody added.

The average age of youth in the program is 11, Brody said, and this pre-adolescent period is a critical point in development when youth start thinking about experimenting with alcohol and other substances and become more susceptible to peer pressure.

The study showed that likelihood of youth with low self control engaging in conduct problems decreased by 74 percent two years later.

"In every step of the development of SAAF, a focus group of African-American parents and youth was convened," Brody said.

"We would develop intervention targets with community members and, after the curriculum was written, would get additional feedback to make sure we were on the right track. It really was a partnership between the rural African-American community and our research centre."(ANI)

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